Finally in Scotland

We are finally settled in our new flat in Scotland.  Wow, what a journey that has been.  I won’t write about it here, if you are interested, the on-going saga, it is all here with lots of photo’s.  http://thepotatowife.wordpress.com/

But for this blog, I will show my UK dolly experiences.

The first experience was on Portobello Road in Earls Court, London.  This is an antique market that is filled with shops and stalls.  There was one lady in particular I wanted to meet, she has all antique dolls and when we found her, I was in seventh heaven, as I got to personally handle the most exquisite dolls on earth.  Bru’s, Juneau’s, a darling automaton, and many more.  I about fainted from the delight of it.  None were under £4000 and so there was no hope I would ever have one.  Two I handled were all originals, at £6000 each.  Sigh.  She is here:

http://heatherbond.co.uk/items-for-sale/

Reluctantly we moved on and I of course had my eye peeked for a doll, but none were found.  I saw a few tinies, all over priced and not in good enough condition.  One ultra tiny china head caught my eye and the seller let me have her for £4. 

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2012-04-28 015 She is dug up girl, but I liked her features and she had so much personality for such a tiny head.  Someday I will carve a body for her.  I marvelled thinking about who once played with her and how she ended up buried.  The seller was overly eager to tell me the name of the dump site and that it was closed in 1892, which led me to think it was all talk and really of no consequence.  She was not an investment by any means and china heads were as common as pennies.  Still, I love her face and someday I will make her live again.

The next experience was at Harrods in London.  I was dismally annoyed that the huge toy department had NOTHING exquisite as they do in most of their departments.  Where were all the fine dolls from all over the world?  I was so annoyed I swore I would never set foot in Harrods again.  Even Dayton’s in Minneapolis had a doll section back in the 1980’s that had dolls I had to save all year for to buy my daughter for Christmas.  Anyway, the only doll I did see and was very taken by was a boy Kids n Kats.

2012-04-28 005 He was delicate in face features, I loved the posability (they had one in a glass case and I asked to handle it, so I got a chance to test all the joints).  These dolls are much smaller and more petite than American Girl and the face on the boy was so delicate and fine.  I really wanted him, but at Harrod’s prices, I could not.  We are not in the doll buying mode, husband gently reminded me.  Sigh.  I really wanted him.  I did not care as much for the girls for some reason.

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So I left, feeling sorry for myself.  No more dolls?  I guess we made the decision to move here and that means being very thrifty until we know what the end result will be. 

While we were in Weston Super Mare, we had finished dinner in a pub and walking back to the car.  We walked passed a game shop that had both new and used character toys.  I found Indiana Jones, by only seeing his feet on a bottom shelf.  I had to have him.  He is much larger than a GI Joe, fully dressed, but missing his rope, hat and pistol.  I don’t know what else came with him.

2012-04-29 068 he talks, says three things, one of which is ‘’SNAKES, WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SNAKES?’’

I though at first he may be almost the same size as Yorik, but he is smaller.

2012-04-29 070 Not that it matters.  I found myself enjoying Indiana Jones, he poses quite well, had double joints in his knees and enough personality in his face to amuse me.  I am thinking of making him a leather hat when I get my supplies.

The last experience came with staying at a wonderful inn, in Carlton.  Here, I was inspired to take Yorik out back and just photograph him.

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I didn’t have anything in mind, other than to just spend some one on one time with him.  He needed to get out anyways, he has spent too much time tucked in a travel bag anyways.

2012-04-30 049 I then took a couple of the dolls I have right now, each giving me a unique thing that only they can give. 

2012-04-30 060In the bedroom window sill of the Inn.

2012-04-30 057 What a goofy face.  Love it.

Once we moved into the flat, I put the boys on top of my wardrobe until I have time to play.  The vinyl china head girl I have by my bed.  I have been looking at her as I fall asleep at night.

2012-05-03 016  In a few days, after the craziness of all the things we are trying to get done settles down, I will start playing again.  I want to name the lady doll and I think Indiana Jones may have either a new nickname or perhaps another name so I am not obligated to a certain personality.  But who knows where that will go….I think he is just glad to get out from under all the aliens and the Star Wars fleet.

Word is that our boxes (all my dollies and sewing machine and TOYS) will arrive in Glasgow on June 30th and be de
livered about 2 weeks after that.  I am practically frothing at the mouth to get my hands on my sewing machine.  Over a year now since I have sewn on it….I am having withdrawals!  Oh, and there was a shop that had hundreds of antique sewing machines….I was really delirious with happiness seeing them all.  Husband had to drag me away.

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She’s Here and Safe

This morning, a woman came to the door with a package saying the mailman had left it in her box.  It was such a relief.

 

2012-02-16 002 This is my first glimpse of her.  All 3 inches of her.

2012-02-16 003She is solid, not hollow.  She has dirt in her eyes,so first thing the little dear had a bath.

2012-02-16 004Her details for this size are incredible.

2012-02-16 007 She has eye lids for heavens sake!

My first attempt at adding hair and a face were all wrong.

2012-02-16 035 She lost something in the. translation.  I wiped it off and went a different direction

2012-02-17 001 I used wool yarn instead of human hair, made a wig cap and sewed the yarn on, made braids and sewed them up around her head.

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2012-02-17 005 2012-02-17 010 The dress is not done, it needs buttons in the back and trim of some sort.  I am not sure yet of how to do her face, even with a magnifying glass I can barely see her eyes!

The Search, the find

I’ve been meaning to write this up earlier, but life keeps getting in the way.  It’s is now 4 1/2 weeks before I leave, time is ticking away so much faster than I thought it would.

Most of the furniture was picked up last week, husband is sleeping on an air mattress on the floor.  Daughter wants the TV, dining room table and my leather chair.  We will put those things in a storage unit for her to pick up later.  They will not be staying in Hawaii, but don’t have their orders yet.  All that is left is a glass top desk, file cabinet and the chair and misc. householdy stuff.  The doll room will be a huge challenge for me and I am sure we will have our moments of upset as we try and choose the things to keep.  For the most part, everything seems to be on schedule with all the selling and hopefully the dinnerware (huge amount) and the car will find buyers closer to April.

What I wanted to mention was this incredibly  intense thing I went through for a few weeks.  I longed for something, but did not know what it was.  I mean I was on a mad hunt for a doll but could not find it.  I found many that I liked, but not enough to try and talk my husband into it.  I would have strong reservations because I knew now was about the most impractical time to even consider a new doll when I have yet to lessen the few I have at home.  In moments of crazy desire, I would run upstairs and grab Evie or Yorik and I knew instantly that I had exactly who I wanted to have.  They are perfect in every way, and why I was searching so hard was beyond me.  But on it went, and periodically I would be relieved when I held my companions and be comforted that I was not going to lose them.  Part of the problem is not being able to have them sitting by my computer anymore, as the baby is at the grabby stage and we have had some near disasters in them being grabbed faster that I could react.  So they stay upstairs and I miss them.  Since Evie received her new hair and eyes, she has blossomed so much that I am awe struck by her.  I sometimes just sit her on my pillow at night and gaze into her eyes.  There is no longer any trace of sallowness in her skin, sadness in  her eyes, nor is there any need to change her further.  I utterly adore her like never before.  I have been wanting to write about this, but I simply fail at finding the right words.  Evie has become everything to me.  If I could find any fault it is just the desire to take her about with me.  I still want a travel companion, one that could stand the sun and weather and being tousled about in a purse.

Then I came across a tiny doll late one night.  She was so incredible!  I had never seen one like her and I fell in love.  Tiny, less than 4 inches high, she is an antique glazed china full china body doll.  I did some research and I am guessing she could be between 1850 and 1870.  I will try and find more about her, but they can be pretty elusive.  She is not marked that I can see.  My second guess is that she is French or made for the French market.  Possibly a dollhouse doll or pocket doll but those really came into popularity much later in the 1800’s.   If anyone knows more, I would love to hear your opinion.  I will write more about how I came to these conclusions in another future post.  If you can, enlarge the photo to see the incredible detail on her boot.

She has a missing lower leg and foot.  Her face is not easy to see in the seller’s photograph, but I detect real potential in her sculpting even though the paint is long gone.  She had once worn a wig as there is no hair detail.  It appears one arm may be more bent than the other.  I had to have her.  Amazingly I was the only one to bid on her and I saw that she had only had 10 views.  Wow!  Could no one else see her potential?  lol. 

 1800's Bisque China Wire Jointed Doll!  eBay - Opera_2012-02-12_11-04-47 httpcgi.ebay.comwseBayISAPI.dllVISuperSize&item=230743283310 - Internet Ex_2012-02-12_17-05-49Click to enlarge.

There is wonderful modelling to her body and face for this tiny size. 

eBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & mor_2012-02-12_17-21-50 I tried to blow up the photo a bit, I swear I see a smile! 

Rosebud I added some photoshopping face colour to see how she would appear with a bit of a face up.  Being glazed china, I could add glass paint to refresh her without it being permanent.  I found a great tutorial on making a wig in this size and I already used some of my own hair and made the tiny swatches.  I will post photo’s on how I do it when she gets here.  I would rather find a mohair wig, but since I have some at home and I will be home soon, I don’t want to invest in anything right now.  I am NOT looking forward to making clothes for her and I am desperately hoping she is not a clothes horse.  I dislike sewing so small.  Maybe a crochet dress and hair will be enough.  (Fingers crossed).

I had also found a fabulous vintage Japanese box to carry her in in a thrift shop. 

Sorry, bad photo, it is a small lacquer box with silk lining, both the top and the bottom are padded.  The delicate scenery in the shadow box lid is wonderfully deep and layered in 3D style with a pagoda and 2 white cranes.  I made an angora blanket and a pillow stuffed with feathers to welcome her home with. I just need to make a padded bag to put the box in so that it doesn’t get scratched up in my purse.

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What my thoughts on her is that she would make a wonderful travel about companion, someone so small that she could go into a purse or pocket with ease.  I could photograph her anywhere and never worry about the sun or the sand, wet or cold.  Her missing limb doesn’t bother me in the least and I may just carve her a nice peg leg if she would like one.  I would love to know what happened to her, when it happened and all of the things she has seen through time.   She is small enough for me to be able to hold her during my flights, take with me when taking walks. 

I am so excited!  I also bought Evie the same size doll but in vinyl so she won’t feel like I am bringing in an OTHER.  I told her we could play dollies together!  I think she likes the idea even though she looked at me with that sceptical look.

Antique Mall

Yesterday, we went to that antique store I have been yammering on about.  It was so much fun, mostly because we were out of the truck, we were walking and being able to look at things besides the road and truck stops.  A fabulous change of pace…considering the last time we did this was right before Christmas in 2009!  Remember the little fun Native American Nativity set we had on the truck…it was from there.

 

Anyways, there were two floors of over priced pseudo antiques.  Lots of things from my childhood days.  I am hardly an antique, and neither are cabbage patch dolls and Barbies from the 1990’s.  The doll selection was dismal.  One true antique with a price tag of $950 that was there the last time I was there, so obviously they aren’t making any sales.  There are better chances of a true antique on eBay at half that cost.  But the rest was enjoyable, I did find vintage buttons and trims for my sewing, a metal knitting gauge and a very nice Bates circular knitting needles in size 0.  Yippy, she only charged $1!  I also found a vintage old fashioned metal phone, a tiny used bottle of perfume and a small diary from 1961, which I always look for small books to put on bookshelves in the doll rooms.

 

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  A garishly delightful French provincial TV which made me laugh (but I wanted it!), and I adored this old toy stove:

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Imagine, that it really heats up!  I saw the heat coils under the cooking holes on top.  I wonder how many children may have burned themselves on it, perhaps it didn’t get that hot?  I wanted this time, but at $55 it was out of my price range.  It would have worked for a 10” child doll, or a 16-18” adult doll.

 

I am still sewing for my little visitor.  Because of her presence, I have been giving a tremendous amount of thought to my dolls, my companions, my dolly world in general.  The visitor is small, about 12”?  I love this size.  I am getting use to sewing small again, and once I am into it, I don’t mind at all.  In fact, I am pleased with making tiny hand stitches and the control it gives on such small garments.  It’s definitely a challenge with fabric and trim selections, but I am learning as I go and having fun doing it.

 

One of the things I did while in the Antique mall, was to pay attention to objects and the scale of antique things that could be used by doll companions.  I am leaning towards the antique world of dolls and really wanting to move into that realm again.  I want a companion just like the one I saw so many years ago, a fine antique lady, very small, about 10” in height, wearing a fabulous 1870’s dress, and her trunk was decorated with all kinds of things found on her African safari travels, everything from fine kid gloves to African tribal masks adorned her little trunk room.  The whole room was done with the utmost detail, just looking at a photo of it made my imagination soar with stories. 

 

Living on the truck is so bland and harsh.  I want a world to retreat into with my doll.  A world I can research, make things for.  When I had Belsant Tower, I remember the thrills I use to get working on the storyline, making little tea stained letters, finding a candle stick that would fit on the mantel of the fireplace.  Yes, I really need to have this place to work from again.  Having a companion in the modern world with me, is paying attention to the day to day drag of trucking.  I need to escape it.

 

I am giving considerations to whom that lady will be.  Charlotte is too large (18 inches) and a family heirloom, so she will never be a traveler, it is too risky.  Saraband is a possibility, she is about 13-14 inches?, but I am not sure how a china head will fare on a bumpy truck and I may tire of keeping her porcelain feet from banging against each other and that goes for traveling too.  I also have Miette, at 10” who has traveled with me and was a lot of fun.  Miette has a child’s face and body, so I am no sure yet on how to work with that, as I want an adult traveler. 

 

I have a bid on a fine lady, but I seriously doubt I will win her.  I had to plead and bargain for the small amount I could bid, as there was a very strict rule to buy no more dolls this year, but I have it in my mind that I want something close to what my little visitor brought to me and I want to pursue it very much.  Something about the 10"-13” size, something about finery, something about a dream world, a historical place I can work on.  I miss Belsant Tower so much.  So many stories I have written about it and never published on the blog. 

 

I have two room type doll trunks.  One for a small doll, one for a large.  Obviously I cannot drag around the large one, nor could I even get it on an airplane.  I am rethinking the possibility of changing the need of a companion for companionship’s sake and instead of finding an antique doll to have a year long adventure story within a historical context.  I don’t know if I can move Miette into an adult role, or if Saraband is too large for the smaller trunk or if I need to find a small china head to be the lady.  Something to think about, something I am working on. 

Stripping A Schoenhut Sept 4,2010

It takes a lot of work to strip a Schoenhut of it paint.  The face takes the longest time as there is either a layer of composition or extra layers of paint, plus there is often poor homemade re-paints to get through.

I have now stripped three Schoenhuts, one toddler (nature baby sculpt) and two Miss Dolly’s.  I would never strip a carved Schoenhut, but these later models were not cared, but heat pressed wood and are fairly common.

Here is the Miss Dolly I won on an eBay auction for $99:

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The paint on her body was in excellent condition, it appears the face, hands and feet were repainted at some point, but well done.  Her only flaw beside the chipped face paint was a split in the wood in her upper arm.  The split does not move at all or show any weakness, I am able to move her arm without any looseness or fear of breakage.

DSC08578 I will be adding a wedge of wood to make a cosmetic correction later.

The stripping of the face takes the better part of a day, the paint is so hard to remove even with heavy duty paint stripper.

DSC08580 DSC08585Here you can see the wonky ear and the no-chin shape.  A bit of heat mark under the ear. 

DSC08587  Here you can see the differences in the eye shapes.

I recommend working the head first and working it a section at a time.  The heads were heat pressed, so there will be several things to keep in mind.  The area under the eyes seem to be the most vulnerable to scraping melted paint, be careful, as the wood will become soggy here.  The paint/composition material also hides a lot of problems the wood may have had, filling in and covering up wood flaws.  The ears are very crude and shapeless, the nose becomes a blob and the eyes are not identical at all.  One eye is nicely shaped with a hint of a upper eyelid, the other eye is not shaped well at all and is missing an upper eyelid.  The inner eye corner id very deep and holds a lot of paint and is the most difficult to remove paint from.

I have found that the tools for working clay with work the best for scraping melted paint off with.  The clay tool with wire stubs on the end are great for loosening melted paint in the nose, mouth and eye area’s.

The body is very easy to strip.  I still recommend doing one section at a time, scraping the paint off, then add another layer of stripper and then just wiping off with paper towel.  The body will be a lovely natural wood colour, but the face will not.  The face will have varying levels of heat damage in the form of darkened wood.  One Schoenhut I stripped (the toddler) had such dark heat marks on the sides of the head that I ended up staining him with a dark walnut stain to make him dark skinned.  This Miss Dolly I am working on had no heat marks on the sides of the head, but had them all across the front of her head in a web like design.  To see how the doll will look with varnish or oil, wipe the face with a wet washcloth to see the dark patterns.  At this point you can decide on whether to stain dark and leave the wood natural, or repaint (do use an oil based paint) or accept the heat marks as part of the charm of an antique doll with loads of personality.  I prefer unpainted wood dolls and so I accepted that this particular doll was not going to have a flawless face, she was going to look mottled and practically diseased.  lol.

After she was stripped and sanded, I carved a bit of a chin for her, as she looked like a toad from the side, with her chin blending into her neck.  I then used my dremel and gave her deeper nostrils, a little more ear detail and a belly button.  I also carved a bit to raise her cheeks, but not enough to change her look dramatically.  Her one eye had a split in the wood that was a natural wood flaw.  I used the dremel to smooth this down and close the wood grain.  I also smoothed down and closed the wood grain under the eyes.

I painted her eyes and mouth with artist oil paints, rubbing a tiny dot of carmine into her cheeks (actually just staining the wood, not painting it), the back of her hands, belly and tops of feet and knees for a bit of blushing.  I painted a dark brown behind her teeth, painted the teeth white and adding lip colour last.  The last was to add a couple of coats of satin finish varnish to seal the wood and keep it as light as possible.

When she was dry, I found a wig that suited her and pulled out her three original wig nail tacks and positioned the wig and tapped them back in.  Since there is hardly and shape to the head to hold a wig on, this is the best way to keep a Schoenhut wig on.

DSC08595 Here she is finished with brown eyes, which I changed by adding a bit of blue.  You can see how lovely the body finishes, but the face is mottled. 

DSC08602 She now has a more defined chin/neck line.

I will have to make her clothes, but i found a quick out fit for her to wear until I have time to sew for her.

DSC08618 Blue eyes brighten up her face and her asymmetrical eyes give her more personally than the old painted dull eyes she had before.  I love the belly button!

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Although her face is mottled and imperfect, I love how she seems so much more alive and intelligent coming out from under the standard paint treatment of a doll made to look like the porcelain dolls of the time.  She is different than the larger Miss Dolly I had, this one is 16 inches and I think better looking than the 19 inch.  Her movements are wonderful and holds all her poses as Schoenhuts are known for.  She is shorter than my Evie, but larger in proportion.

DSC08631 Oh, Evie in her new wig.  It will be so much easier to deal with than the tibetan wool.  It makes her look younger too.

Such different looking girls!

Finds, Ollie’s Body, Eyes.

Yesterday was filled with getting Husband on the truck and shopping!

I found so many things that would suit Evie, but put several pieces back because I am still not sure how I want her room to look.  I did find a round table with curvy legs, a rocking chair and lots of bows on clips for her hair.  I also found infant pillow cases in cute child patterns that will work perfect as fitted sheets on her bed.  And a few toys for her to play with.  Oh, and some princess books.

DSC06650 I will paint the table and possibly the rocker when I decide on her room colours.

I finished Ollie’s body:

Before and after:

DSC06624 DSC06635 It took three tries at making a pattern shape, but I finally got the overall shape I wanted.  Keeping the same over all size of the original body, I put all of his weight to the front and gave him the ability to move his arms and legs and to sit down.  Most of the stuffing in the old body was actually in his back!  I really like his belly in front, it’s more realistic. I couldn’t help but noticed that he beamed when in the right shape!

DSC06637 Here you can see the blushing I gave him to liven up his sallow complexion.  My husband laughed, because I gave him a belly button!

I ordered antique glass eyes for the little head in brown. 

Antique eyes for little girl

I will make her a wig out of materials I already have.  But she will have to wait, right now I am in the midst of cleaning the apartment and shopping.  After my Husband hung some of our pictures up, the apartment looked homey and I want to work on making it look the best it can and not like a warehouse of boxes.  So dolly things will take a side step for a couple of days until the apartment is completed (including organizing the sew room) so that I can relax and play and carve a body for the little one.

Oliver, the Orphan and the Hedgehog

I took Oliver’s clothes off to investigate why his arms stick out and his legs felt weird under his trousers.

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I tried very hard not to laugh out loud, but Ollie was good humoured about it all.  Chicken legs and a badly made body.  So I will be giving him a new body today.

I also blushed his face a bit and it made a big difference in his jaundiced appearance.

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I also worked on the little Halbig head, she is so sweet.  That pink nail polish and glue repair job was a bear to remove.  I now have her nice and solid, but the crack is noticeable and the chip after being filled in and given a bit of pastel to match her rosy cheeks, well, it looks like a scar.  I still need to sand the “scar” so perhaps I can get it matched a bit better.  The poor dear is pulling on my heart strings.  I am determined to make her a living little girl again.  I don’t have any eyes to fit her, so I will be on the hunt today. 

halbig 2

halbig

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And just because I had to…..this little 9 inch made in Germany, bought in Russia hedgehog is coming to live with us.

Porcupine Doll